I've put my finger on another one of those things that has bothered me for a while, but refused to take shape in my brain: When a conservative goes against his principles or makes a mistake, it's because he's wrong. When a liberal goes against his "principles"... or at least his campaign promises, he's actually right!
Pretty basic, but also a pretty good explanation of why the Republican takeover of the 90's ended because they failed to live up to their own goals, but Barack Obama can continue to contradict his party, his campaign, and even himself from week to week and get away with it: He's usually flip-flopping to the correct answer. OK... to the less wrong answer.
Put another way, if a conservative runs on conservatives principles - also known as reality - but then governs like a liberal, he's useless. He's a liar, he's a bad leader, and he's quite frankly wrong. The governor of California comes to mind. And, in fact, the vast majority of Republicans in Congress come to mind. They say one thing during the campaign, but then screw everything up when in office. But liberals don't carry this onus. They're wrong the whole time they're campaigning. So when they actually do something that goes against those principles, everybody's happy. If you run on closing Gitmo, immediate withdrawal of troops, and banning guns, but then leave the prison open, keep the preceding secretary of defense running a continuing war, and respect - or at least pretend not to notice - the 2nd amendment... well, it's hard to criticize those things. And because conservatives attack ideas, we also acknowledge when people get things right. A liberal would never stray so far from his agenda just to acknowledging truth.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."